For the past several years, television has increasingly become the place where top-notch talent turns in order to get projects made that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day in today’s blockbuster-driven feature film industry. Case in point: recently, television has successfully lured the likes of Daniel Craig, Viola Davis, Clive Owen, Tom Hardy, and more, while writers and directors have found themselves with diverse, meaty projects just waiting for a home somewhere up and down the increasingly crowded dial.
Not surprisingly, then, it has been discovered that one of the biggest stars in the world, Robert Downey Jr., is set to make a return to television. This time, however, the former Ally McBeal star will be teaming with Nic Pizzolatto, creator of HBO’s hit and miss True Detective, who will be serving as the series’ writer. The move to a different medium comes after Downey became one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, following his portrayal of Tony Stark in Iron Man, which effectively kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, as well as two appearances as Guy Ritchie’s action-oriented sleuth in Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Since that time, Downey’s been pretty well locked into his role as the genius billionaire industrialist, appearing in only a handful of non-Marvel, non-Sherlock films since he became ol’ Shellhead.
One of the projects that Downey has been trying to get off the ground has been his purported reboot of the Perry Mason series, which, even with the actor’s considerable clout has been rough going for some time. And now, according to Variety, who broke the story, it appears that the project at HBO is, in fact, based on the Perry Mason project that was first set up at Warner Bros. in 2011.
As noted by the trade, it seems the premium channel envisions the project as a series, rather than a TV movie. That is in keeping with HBO’s model as of late, as it would afford the channel an enticing product to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, while at the same time adding to its already impressive library of original content – most of which is comprised of series, limited and otherwise. In addition, should the as-yet-unnamed series prove to be a success, the company may very well find a way to get both Downey and Pizzolatto back for more seasons, as their schedules will allow.
While it’s common knowledge at this point that Downey can next be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming and, presumably, The Avengers: Infinity War, along with any other MCU film that might benefit from his presence, Pizzolatto has been relatively quiet since the poor critical reception of True Detective season 2. Despite the misfire, though, the writer has remained with HBO, even signing a new overall deal with the network recently. While this newest project doesn’t necessarily preclude him from participating in a possible True Detective season 3, it would place him at the center of another potentially prestigious series while everyone waits for Rust Cohle to come back.
Now that HBO is under the leadership of Casey Bloys, nabbing Downey and pairing him with Pizzolatto may be the first major move by the new president of programming. While some may wonder whether or not a Perry Mason reboot is the smartest thing for the premium cabler, a quick glimpse at the critical reception of the summertime-limited series The Night Of, from acclaimed writers Steve Zaillian and Richard Price and starring John Turturro, should be proof enough that a legal drama created under the pretense of making the next big prestige television show is more than likely the right way to go.
Screen Rant will have more news on the new Robert Downey Jr. HBO series as details are made available.